“if you had been here . . .”
Scripture: John 11:17-24
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Reader: This is the word of the Lord. Response: Thanks be to God.
Does it ever seem like all hope is lost? Sometimes the answer is yes. Martha, the more impetuous of the two sisters, was the one who went to meet Jesus. Apparently, with Jesus’ two day delay, he wouldn’t have gotten there in time anyway since Lazarus has already in the tomb four days, but then Jesus knew he was already dead before they came to Bethany. Lazarus had apparently died during the day trip to tell Jesus that Lazarus was ill. Jewish burial was held as soon as possible after death. The Jewish belief was that the soul of the deceased hung around for three days in case life returned. On the fourth day it left. Lazarus’ being dead four days is John’s way of telling us Lazarus was really dead. Martha’s response to Jesus’ comment is kind of a mixed faith. She had been around Jesus and seen him heal people before, maybe even raise people from the dead and wished that he had been there earlier because he could have brought healing to her brother. She believed in a final resurrection, unlike the Sadducees, but that was of little consolation now. This is one of those challenging times when we have faith in the biggest picture, but are still in pain for the present time. A certain future does not provide much relief for the present. Martha reached out to the Lord and expressed her broken heart. Jesus did not recoil nor rebuke her. Never be afraid to express your true heart to the Lord in a tough time. Talk with him and listen carefully with ears of faith. Sometimes there are surprises. Just ask Martha!
Music: “If You Will Trust in God to Guide You” Fountainview Academy
Hymn: If You Will Trust in God to Guide You -Georg Neumark, 1641
If you will trust in God to guide you and place your confidence in him,
You’ll find him always there beside you, to give you hope and strength within.
For those who trust God’s changeless love build on the rock that naught can move.
Sing, pray, and keep his ways unswerving, offer your service faithfully,
And trust his word; though undeserving, you’ll find his promise true to be.
God never will forsake in need the soul that trusts in him indeed.
Prayer: And now unto him who is able to keep us from falling and lift us from the dark valley of despair to the bright mountain of hope, from the midnight of desperation to the daybreak of joy; to him be power and authority, for ever and ever. Amen.
–Martin Luther King Jr., 1928-1968